Alexander RUSSELL

Nationality British
Year of selection2012
InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow
CountryUnited Kingdom
RiskEnvironmental risks

Type of support

Post-Doctoral Fellowship

Granted amount

120 000 €

Solar flares are violent explosions on the Sun, associated with intense bursts of x-rays and extreme ultraviolet light, acceleration of subatomic particles to relativistic energies, and ejection of magnetised plasma into the solar system (Fig. 1). All of these phenomena can be detrimental to satellites and terrestrial systems such as power grids, which are increasingly regarded as essential infrastructure. In this context, the development of reliable solar flare forecasting is an important and long-standing goal of solar physics.

The dramatic power of solar flares comes from reconfigurations of the Sun’s complex magnetic field, which store and release energy in critical sites called active regions. Our goal is to develop and test novel flare prediction tools, using movies of the magnetic fields in these critical regions.

The questions we aim to address are:

  • (i) Can we identify properties of the evolving magnetic field that presage a solar flare, focusing on the most critical magnetic locations?
  • (ii) Can we link these properties with the approach towards instability that produces a flare?
  • (iii) Does the picture change if we employ information on the magnetic field direction as well as its strength?
  • (iv) Can what we learn above improve solar flare forecasts?

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